Whitstable Harbour is a tidal port and its activities are strongly influenced by this, as the harbour basin dries out at low tide.
The tidal range varies from around eight feet on neap tides and fifteen feet on spring tides. The incoming (flow) tide flows from east to west (towards the River Swale) and the outgoing (ebb) tide from west to east (towards Herne Bay). At mid-tide the water can be flowing at up to three knots.
The prevailing winds from the south west or north east blow across the harbour mouth and this combination of wind and tide, not to mention the mud flats to the west of the harbour and the street shingle bank to the east, make entering and leaving the harbour a matter of skill and judgement, particularly for the skippers of larger vessels.
In 2007, Whitstable was one of the first three ports to be awarded a certificate of Leading Light status, meaning it is nationally recognised as offering good practice and quality.
The harbour operates its own pilotage service. Incoming vessels pick up the pilot by the Whitstable Street buoy, a port hand buoy approximately two miles north north east of the harbour. Inbound vessels also have to leave the Oyster buoy, another red port hand buoy which can be seen off the harbour entrance, to port.
The harbour is suitable for vessels up to 95m. For incoming vessels above 50m, pilotage is compulsory and notice to the harbour office is required 24 hours before ETA. Vessels board a pilot at the Whitstable Street buoy, approximately two miles north east of the harbour.
Inbound vessels should leave the Oyster buoy, a red port hand buoy which can be seen off the harbour entrance, to port. VHF users should call ‘Whitstable Harbour’ on Channel 9.
Published: Monday 25 September
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